That Time I Peed Outside

14 Apr

I almost hate to type these words because I don’t want to jinx anything but…my Sunday long run was awesome!

I don’t know why I get myself all worked up and pscyh myself out, but I was a nervous wreck on Saturday.  I mean, 4.5 miles.  For me, that’s quite big jump from the steady 2-3 milers I’ve been logging lately.  I was nervous about everything – would the weather hold up, what should I wear so I am max comfortable, where should I go, blah blah blah.  When I left the house to open Changin’ Time, I put on my trusty old drawstring running capris that I trained in most of last spring.  By the time I left the laundromat, I was all ready uncomfortable (like I never want to wear them again) so I decided to run home and change into my long running tights.  I wasn’t interested in having any excuses to give up!

Then, I drove over to South Side to run on the riverfront trail.  I don’t usually run this trail, but it’s mostly flat and heavily populated on weekends so I thought it would be ideal. (Heavily populated is ideal because I’m less likely to take walking breaks if people can see me <- I’m pathetic.)  I was absolutely nauseous the whole way to the parking lot because I wanted so badly to have a good run and to actually prove to myself that I could do it.

You have to love South Side on Sunday mornings…

I censored her lady parts...you're welcome.

I censored her lady parts…you’re welcome.

For the first mile, I was feeling a bit deflated, too!  Sometimes it’s a struggle to get my body to move in sync right away, but I thought back to a convo I had with my future mother-in-law last spring when she was training for the Pittsburgh half.  She said something like, “I need the first few miles of my long run to warm up.  I always feel like I’m a mess for the first mile.”  At the time I remember thinking to myself:  Um…I basically only run a few miles at a time!  My entire run is her warm up!  I suck!   I’m so nice to myself, aren’t I?  I’m glad I remember that conversation, though, because it reminded me that it’s okay to struggle.  Just because the first mile or so isn’t working out, that doesn’t mean the whole run will.

I happened to be almost to the 10th Street Bridge when the skies just opened up and it started to POUR.  I mean really pour…

April-Showers-Running-1

I huddled under the bridge for less than 5 minutes and just as quickly as it started, the rain just completely stopped.  Conveniently, the top half of me was soaked just enough to cool me down but not make me uncomfortable.  I don’t know if my iPhone and Garmin would’ve survived if it wasn’t for that bridge!  I took the brief break to stretch out a bit and thank the lucky stars that I wasn’t feeling like this disturbingly amusing graffiti nearby:

Graffiti-SouthSide-Pittsburgh

A few miles down the trail, I knew I could absolutely not go another step if I didn’t take a bathroom break but….there was no civilized toilet in sight.  So, I finally made the runner’s right of passage and squatted in a bush.  You’ll be happy to know that I fought the urge to document the moment via Instagram.  It was my first time peeing in a bush on South Side sober.  Writing this down makes me realize the run was more successful than I initially realized!  It’s the little things…blow up dolls and urination benchmarks.

Anyway, I was really proud of how few walking breaks I needed and how consistent my pace was.  The rain did leave a humidity in the air and I was overheating BADLY on the way back – clearly the decision to wear long running tights backfired.  I need to invest in some warm weather running bottoms this week.  You know, after it’s done snowing on Wednesday.  I’m getting so excited for marathon weekend!  I’ve been logging more consistent miles, I’m feeling great, and I peed outside!  Woop Woop!  Happy Monday!

5 Thing Friday

11 Apr

All week I’ve been reading about cool things and this is where I dump them:

1.  Beers Of The Burgh Festival – This weekend is the inaugural Beers of the Burgh Festival, which will be held in Lawrenceville and showcases over 30 local craft brewers.  General admission is sold out, but you can still purchase VIP tickets!

 

2.  40 Towns Create Land Bank – I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS FOR A LONG TIME.  Finally.  Finally some action on blighted properties in my community.  If you aren’t aware of what happens when a region is dependent on a single industry (ahem, steel) and then all the industry packs up and leaves:  blight.  Empty, rotting houses and overgrown brush in abandoned lots, riddled with garbage.  An analysis done by local municipalities found that:

“20,077 vacant lots and 7,158 parcels with blighted structures that cost local governments more than $10.7 million a year in direct municipal services, such as police, fire and code enforcement. They also account for nearly $8.7 million in lost annual tax revenue. But the biggest drain was on neighboring non-blighted properties, which the report found suffered a total loss of between $218 million and $247 million in property values.”

Some Pittsburgh neighborhoods were hit harder than others, but the creation of this land bank is huge!  To me, it may mean that we are finally able to combat blight and attract a more stable tax base to effected areas.  Some people oppose these types of strategies because it gives government control over private property.  I, on the other hand, stare at abandoned buildings all day long.  In my opinion, if you aren’t able or willing to fix up your janky property then you shouldn’t have it to begin with.  The boroughs’ hands are tied because the properties ultimately belong to someone – and many times those people can’t be found or don’t want to be found.  The borough has to deal with the problems associated with the property but can’t actually do anything about it.  A land bank would allow municipalities to generate tax income, sell properties, attract new property developers, and to improve the overall aesthetic of a neighborhood.    That is HUGE for boroughs like Homestead and Braddock.

 

3.  16 Ways To Kick Plastic – This is a quick read but it’s got some great ideas on how to use less plastic.  My 2 favorite ones are: 1) Just say no to disposable straws, carry a few BPA-free reusable ones with you 2) Bring your own doggy-bag container when you go to a restaurant.

 

4.  Cyclocable Bike Lifts In Pittsburgh?! – This is basically exactly what I need to become an avid adequate let’s just go with cyclist.  If it’s good enough for Norway, it’s good enough for me.  DON’T JUDGE ME PEOPLE.  THOSE HILLS ARE NO JOKE.  Somehow I doubt that even Bill Peduto could make this one happen.

 

5.  Check out this list of 42 Flowers You Can Eat…I can’t see myself throwing chrysanthimums on my salad but hey the list also includes herbs and spices.  If I’m every stranded in the wilderness somewhere (LIKE FRICK PARK because my God I get all turned around on those trails), I will be able to survive.  Or maybe someday I will be go all rogue with my cooking and makes virgin tear soup with hibiscus garnish.  Ew.

 

Service For The Soul

10 Apr

Each year, April brings quite a few things back into my life.  Things like rain and the promise of green things to follow, fresh air, BASEBALL, racing season, and tons of other stuff mostly having to do with being outside.  I prefer the transitional seasons, but spring is the most inspirational because the world is starting to wake up.  Things are starting to peek out of the soil.  Green leaves and small buds are starting to appear on bushes and trees.  The sun remembers that it can provide heat and not just light.  To me, April is like taking a big deep breath of fresh air for the first time in months.

Spring-Flowers-Phipps

As I stared at my calender the other day, I realized that there is one thing significantly lacking from my life:  service.  I’ve volunteered for as long as I can remember: candy striping in high school and even more in college, where I was involved in about a dozen organizations.  It was an easy way to find spiritual and emotional gratification, probably because it was so accessible.  On a college campus, organizations basically recruit free labor every day so I rarely had to look far for a great cause.  Since graduating from school, my priorities have shifted.  Now, much of my expended energy is self-serving.  All day is focused on myself, my home, my relationship, my business, me, me, me.

Yesterday, I registered to volunteer with REI in South Side for Earth Day and that got me thinking all the other non-profits in the ‘burgh.  After a few clicks, I was able to sign up for a few other service days with different organizations.  I’m excited to network and meet some eco- and community-minded people while making my city a better place AND I’m excited to report back to you guys!

If you are planning ahead for some family-friendly Earth Day celebrations in Pittsburgh, I highly recommend checking out:

Earth Day 2014 w/ Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy & Frick Environmental Center

Wild Earth Day @ Pgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium


How do you celebrate Earth Day?

If you’d like me to promote your Earth Day activity, just shoot me a comment!

Green Is Good But Sustainability Is Systemic

8 Apr

I don’t talk about sustainability enough on this blog.  The rub of having your masters in sustainability and opening a green business in a city brimming with eco-stewards is that you get all talked out at a certain point.  When you finally do sit sit down to blog, you want to talk about anything else.  This space has become an outlet for all the stuff I love but don’t get to talk about all day:  running and food!

“I feel like I need to commit more time to talk about green living.”

I hate that I even typed that.  What I mean is: I need to commit more time to talk about going beyond green living, into real sustainability.  By no means am I looking down on people who are into green living or use that phrase.  Green is good…great even.  I wish everyone would embrace green lifestyle choices and for the most part, people are pretty happy to jump on the good karma band wagon.  BUT.  And I don’t want to sound pompous when I say this, BUT…to me, the phrase green living has very little meaning.  The phrase itself doesn’t demand self-awareness.  It seems so passive, almost implying that we simply go through our lives and buy products labeled “green” or “eco-friendly” and recycle when it’s convenient and then bask in the awesomeness of our green living.  Understanding sustainability requires us to look beyond packaging and promotions and marketing and our own behaviors/attitudes; it requires us to consider things like social equity and our waste streams and broader systemic implications than just our purchases.  It requires us to think and ask questions and demand answers and improve.  It requires us to walk the walk.  In that spirit, I plan on having more of those conversations in this space.  :)


 

We are smack dab in the middle of what I like to call “crunch time” at the new house.  We’ve got an appraisal coming up so we need to make sure that the remodel is 100% completed by early next week.  It has really been a struggle to find some kind of balance, but with or without balance this train isn’t slowing down!  I have started to think beyond what is happening now, trying to plan how I will tackle my new enormous yard.  I have so many ideas, but it’s challenging for me to figure out which ones are realistic based on my level of experience and the fact that I have 2 oaf-ish dogs.I grew up in a small house nestled smack dab in the middle of an acre of land in the suburbs.  I am used to having air to breathe, trees, and room to wander.  For the last 5 years, I’ve had to leave my house to find any of those things, but that is about to change in a big way (see below)!  I mean, if the zoning requirements were different in this borough I could have an self-sufficient farmette with the yard we are moving into.  They don’t allow that in West Homestead however, and green my thumb is not.

current-tiny-backyard

our yard now..

photo 4(2)

our new yard…

Before May, my goal is to have a recycling center set up, an herb garden planted, a vegetable garden prepped, some kind of rain harvesting set up, and I will make a composter.  Ambitious, no?

The sky is really the limit as far as composting options go, but after a series of trails and errors I have a general idea of what I want.

I don’t think I’m ready for something quite this permanent yet, but ideally this is what I would like to work up to once I know how I want the yard set up:

To begin, I think I like the one below because it seems like it would be easy for someone with very little interest in using a shovel, rake, or biceps.

If I’m unable to get any cooperation from Christina, I may end up with something a little less fancy like this:

I’m shocked at how much less garbage we put out each week when our kitchen scraps get diverted to make compost!  It’s a gratifying feeling when you make something productive {fertilizer} from literal garbage without spending much money.  Composting is one of the simplest examples of a feedback loop.  We have an endless supply of food waste, which will eventually become an endless supply of fertilizer, which will eventually become an endless supply of vegetables, which then turn back into food waste.  That simple model is at the core of sustainability:  consider how a system works, analyze factors that effect it, and then find a way to close the loop/act on the process to get a beneficial outcome.

 

Do you compost?

What kind of system works for you?

 

Currie Tech E-Bike Event

7 Apr

I am neither involved with nor attending this event, but I did received some info about it and it looks cool.

If you’re over by Bridgeville or into biking, this might be something to put on the calender:

Electric-Bike-Demo-Event-Flyer

Worse case scenario:  you crash said $2,000 test bike and have to eat your feelings with some delicious food truck tacos!

Happy trails, y’all. :)

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